Susan's Blog

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Horrible Crime

An Anonymous reader left a comment on a recent post about Brookline, tipping me off to a terrible crime that occurred just a few days ago in town: an autistic 12-year-old girl was apparently raped right in a nearby park by her van driver. You can read the horrible story here.

This man, who was arraigned today, also drove Nat a few years ago! I never thought anything negative about him. And of course he has yet to be proven guilty. That aside, this is every parent’s nightmare, particularly if you have a child who cannot readily communicate. What a horror.

I can only hope and pray that this family can heal, especially the little girl. God only knows what this is like for her.


A van driver should NOT be permitted to be driving alone with a disabled child period-particularly a male bus driver with a 12 year old girl. What was this town thinking? Utter negligence. I hope the parents sue not only the bus company, but the school district as well if this man is found guilty.

— added by Anonymous on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 9:31 pm


Are you saying that we have to have two paid adults on every school transport? That’s going to mean countless hundreds of thousands of dollars moving from the education budget to the transportation budget. I think it would be a whole lot cheaper to install video cameras.

— added by VAB on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 11:25 pm

Video cameras-sure so the bus driver can just take the minimally verbal child out of the van and molest her or do it out of camera shot. VAB- How very pathetic that your first thought is the budget-you must work for a school district. I know many districts who place an aide on the bus for safety–clearly it’s not a priority in Brookline.

— added by Anonymous on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 6:42 am

As angry as we all are, it is not going to easy to sort out responsibility. This is a failure of the CORI check mentality, not of the school district. CORI is completely limited in what it can do, yet everyone depends on it so much.

I don’t think a video camera would have prevented this particular crime, either. Whatever the solution is, I pray for the family to be alright, and that there are no other victims.

— added by Susan Senator on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 6:47 am


According to the news report that I heard the bus driver did pass all background checks. The point here is the complete lack of common sense and failure to protect a disabled dchild. Would anyone,in this day and age, place a typical 12 year old girl on a bus ALONE with a 41 year old male bus driver? No they wouldn’t. I know as a parent of a typical girl similar in age that I would NEVER allow this.

However, Brookline thought it was just fine to place an autistic girl on the bus with a male– alone. You just don’t do that. (if you have any common sense). Brookline was negligent and I hope they are sued along with the bus company for horrible judgement and endangering a child.

— added by Anonymous on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 6:58 am

Are you saying that it is only middle-aged males who assault people, and that only girls are at risk? Furthermore, are you saying that ANY middle-aged male is unsafe around a preteen girl? And that a woman would never assault anyone? How would you even be able to trust a monitor, another adult, going by this reasoning?

I disagree with you. No, this is not something that the town could have known about in advance. The town put its trust in a bus company who apparently followed the law and did the CORI checks. Perhaps the law has to be strengthened, with additional safeguards. CORI checks are certainly not enough, but there has to be another or additional way to protect our kids.

— added by Susan Senator on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 7:05 am

No Susan:

I am saying that a minimally verbal child should have an aide on the bus for their safety because you can never be sure of anyone driving vulnerable children.

Your own child was driven by that person. Did your child have an aide? Doesn’t it concern you? How can we be sure of the people driving our children? An aide would be the solution which numerous children have everyday on the bus with them.

— added by Anonymous on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 7:20 am

My son was assaulted, physically not sexually, by a middle aged woman bus driver when he was four. We insisted he have an aide on the bus ever since.

— added by Foresam on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 8:13 am

CORI is the problem. CORI checks only cover Massachusetts and not the bordering states. In this day and age of computer technology, advcates have been urging for a national CORI registry search. The van company, town and school department have their hands tied not being able to obtain criminal history nationally.
A person could screen with no prior records in the Commonwealth of MA but have been convicted in Connecticut for example.

— added by Anonymous on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 9:44 am

Just horrible, horrible, horrible … My prayers are with the victim and her family. If you ever hear of any way we can help Susan, please let us know. 🙁

— added by Judith U. on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 1:45 pm

The only way to ensure 100% safety of children, disabled or otherwise, would be for each parent to personally provide transportation for their kids.

But that’s not realistic for a zillion reasons.

The abuse by the van’s driver was indeed horrific and inexcusable. It’s also extremely rare. Cumulatively, hundreds of thousands (millions?) of students are transported safely and professionally every year in Massachusetts.

Adding an additional aide for each vehicle is not the answer. Sorry, but money IS an issue here. The existing CORI checks and perhaps the addition of video and/or GPS might be an acceptable middle ground.

— added by Don on Thursday, May 15, 2008 at 9:52 am

Yes, Don, money is certainly a factor, but it is our duty to do everything possible to ensure the safety of our children. If CORIs are not enough, then national checks must also be used. I think it is possible to go on a case-by-case basis and use bus aides for the kids who are not able to communicate, and who are more likely to be victimized, for starters. I don’t think you can simply say, “sorry, we aren’t going to do that,” unless you are a) part of a majority on a School Committee and b) prepared to be taken to court by parents who are terrified for their children’s safety and yet for whom the public education of their children is the law. While the IDEA is still the law of the land, these issues will be settled in court, ultimately.

— added by Susan Senator on Thursday, May 15, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Whoa, now. Someone has been CHARGED with a crime; you all assume that this crime definitely occurred. I, for one, don’t know what the evidence is. I suspect that you do not either. It’s quite possible that the driver did a horrendous thing. It’s also quite possible that he did not. Remember years ago when pre-school day care providers were locked up around the country for sexual assaults that courts later determined did not happen? Yes, the town and parents should do everything in their power to ensure that, going forward, every child on every van is safe. Let the van company, the school system, and the parents do their jobs to make that happen. But let the court system do it’s job, too.

— added by Anonymous on Thursday, May 15, 2008 at 9:28 pm

Wow, Susan, you won’t post my comment because it suggested that maybe the van driver isn’t guilty? Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?

— added by Anonymous on Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 5:54 pm

As you see, I did publish your comment, which I thought was making a very important point about innocent until proven guilty! But sometimes Blogger does not cooperate.

— added by Susan Senator on Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 11:22 pm